Beloved Bedford off to new home


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Noel Petrie's Bedford van has driven through Stratford for the last time, and is now in Te Awamutu with new owners.
Noel Petrie's Bedford van has driven through Stratford for the last time, and is now in Te Awamutu with new owners.

For 48 years, Noel Petrie's 1968 CA Bedford van has been a distinctive sight around Stratford, but now it has taken its last trip on Stratford's roads, heading off to new owners in Te Awamutu.

Not only was it used by Noel and his late wife Rita to deliver stock for their jewellery business, located on the corner of Broadway and Regan Street, but it also took the couple on many holidays through the years.

"We used to visit family in Whangamata and we would sleep in the van when we got there," says Noel.

There are some great roads around the Coromandel, lots of turns. You got great views of the coast in the van as you were sitting up a bit higher than a normal car.
Noel Petrie talking about his Bedford van.

The red Bedford van didn't just play a starring role in Noel's own life though. It also found fame on screen, appearing in a film called Rage, set in New Zealand during the 1981 Springbok tour.

"I was pretty chuffed when they (the film producers) contacted me and asked to use it," recalls Noel, who says the van spent five weeks with the film crew in 2011.

The van has also played a large part in mechanic Graeme McKinlay's life. The owner operator of GM Service Centre Limited has been Noel's mechanic since starting his apprenticeship 41 years ago.

Graeme says the Bedford vans were a common sight in 60s and 70s, when they were a popular choice for tradesmen.

Noel says he isn't surprised it was popular in its day.

"It was a great versatile vehicle, you could do anything with it."

The van was new when Noel got it, with just seven miles on the clock. Since then, it has done plenty more.

"It's on its second time around the clock and is still pretty economical to run."

For Noel, selling the has been a hard decision, but he is happy to know it is going to new owners who will love it as much as he did.

"I kept it as long as I did because I loved it. Now it's time for someone else to love it."

- Stratford Press

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